Friday August 21st, 2015

Major League Baseball and the MLB Players Association have announced a joint domestic violence, sexual assault and child abuse policy.

The two sides have instituted protocol and a system of evaluation for individual player cases in the event of an alleged offense that falls under those categories.

The policy places individual investigations in the hands of the commissioner's office and makes player and Players Association cooperation mandatory. The commissioner can place a player accused of a crime on paid administrative leave for up to seven days during the investigation before handing down a disciplinary decision. In short, under the policy, the league cannot make players sit out without pay at extended length until officially issuing a suspension. “Under certain circumstances” players may be suspended with pay until legal proceedings are complete (after which point the suspension can become unpaid).

The policy does not state a minimum or maximum penalty and places punishment entirely in the hands of the commissioner, currently Rob Manfred. “The commissioner can issue the discipline he believes is appropriate in light of the severity of the conduct,” the policy reads. MLB's disciplinary decisions do not depend on whether a player is convicted or pleads guilty – the league will be able to hand down rulings as it deems appropriate on a case-by-case basis.

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Players who appeal their punishment will go before a three-person panel including an “agreed-upon” independent arbitrator and representatives from the league and MLBPA for a final ruling. 

A joint policy board has been established comprised of seven members – three field experts and two representatives from the MLBPA and commissioner's office. The individual experts in their areas will be responsible for prescribing treatment plans for players (which can include mandatory counseling, evaluations and other stipulations) and overseeing their compliance.

The full policy can be read below.

- Jeremy Woo

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